Government and Public Opinion

Governments also play an important role in determining public ion. Here lies the real difference between the democratic and autocratic ctatorial governments. While the dictator controls public opinion, the ‘•;ratic government guides it. The dictator shapes public opinion, while democrat shares it with the public. In the last analysis, public opinion ot be controlled, but the dictator or autocrat tries to do so as far as Ible. In the democracy, on the contrary, government has to share with public in the making of public opinion, which it does in two ways:

By guiding and educating the public:

Plato said, ‘To rule is to educate”. Democratic government does so by guiding the public in matters of public or national importance and by educating public opinion by furnishing the people with necessary information and facts regarding them.

By securing public support for its policies:

Democratic government tries to secure the support of the public by putting before it relevant facts about its policies and by suggesting means and methods to realise them. Press conferences, television interviews, public speeches and press releases are some of the means by which the government explains its policies to the public and thus influence its opinion. If a government fails to do so, it is likely to be defeated at the next elections.